Dear Vicki: Jim and I started dating 16 months ago. I believe he is an Earth/Water and I love being a Fire – it really helps me be a good teacher. Summers with Jim have been a dream; my Fire flares up and I feel free, funny, and in love with everything. But when school starts, I throw myself into teaching and our relationship takes a 180-degree turn. When that happens, Jim tries even harder to make me happy, but I want to focus on teaching my kids, so feel like pushing him away. In the Fall, I don’t have the time or energy to keep us entertained and really don’t want to owe him for all the wonderful things he does for me while I’m teaching. I know he’s just trying to be nice, so I don’t really understand my intense, angry reaction towards him. Also, Jim is a great artist, but doesn’t seem to take his career seriously. He always has work, but is so laid back about things that sometimes I want to jump in and manage his career. I do love him and want it to work between us for a long time, but why do I stop loving him every Fall? Signed: Frustrated Fire
Dear Frustrated Fire: It is absolutely possible for you to have a long-term relationship with Jim, but you will need to be mindful of your energies and manage them well. As a Fire, you know that you love connecting and having fun with people, but your Fire energy doesn’t necessarily need for those connections to last very long. On the other hand, Jim’s primary Earth will want lasting, long-term relationships. The good news for you is that long-term relationships between a Fire and an Earth can feel happy and natural for both people. It’s a Nurturing Cycle relationship where Fire feeds Earth. In nature, an earthen hearth is the perfect structure to hold and support fire allowing it to burn stable and steady, something that fire doesn’t often do left to its own devices. As an Earth, Jim can provide this gentle structure for you and your Fire.
One of the reasons you feel so happy and in love during the summer is that summer is your season. During summer everyone is a little more Fire as we loosen the structure of work, take vacations, and devote more time to play. Life is fun! The two summers you’ve been with Jim, you have had a ready companion to hold your Fire. I suspect you have actually been able to be more of your Fiery self your two summers with Jim because he has held the space for you. That would make your summers with Jim seem very much like a dream. But summer can’t last forever, and I think part of the problem you’re having in your relationship is the advent of Fall and the energy it brings. Autumn is Metal time and it calls us to slow down and turn inside. For you as a teacher, it also asks you to get serious about your profession. To do this, I think you allow your secondary element to influence you more than you know, and I have little doubt that your secondary is Wood.
In the Fall, you become a different person. The Fire that kept your Wood managed during summer (Fire burns Wood) dims as you move out of summer. This allows your Wood to step up more, which is perfect to help you get serious about teaching. However, that means in the Fall you are a Wood relating to Jim’s Earth, which is a Controlling Cycle relationship (it is Wood’s job to keep Earth from being too Earthy). If Jim ups his “Earthiness” in the Fall to help you when you are so busy, your Wood probably steps up even more to “control” his excess Earth. Another factor that might increase your Wood is the fact that the Metal energy inherent in Fall will feel controlling to your Wood, asking it to slow down when all it really wants to do is ramp up. Some Woods find that their Wood energy actually over-ramps a bit at the beginning of Fall as a reaction to feeling controlled by the Metal energy of the season.
All of this can create a state of excess Wood in you during the Fall. This is especially apparent in your impulse to push Jim away when he interferes with your focus on teaching (Woods don’t like anything interrupting their work), your strong desire to “manage” his business (Woods can’t take chaos and are excellent managers), your admitted anger and frustration with him when he tries to be nice (classic Wood responses), and not wanting him to do more for you than you can do for him (Wood’s need for fairness).
So while you and Jim have a Nurturing Cycle relationship in the summer, it shifts to more of a Controlling Cycle relationship in the Fall. But all is not lost! As we have mentioned in previous posts, Controlling Cycle relationships with Earth are usually less about control and more about balance. In nature, the roots of trees stabilize the earth and in no way diminish it. There is no reason you can’t continue to have a great relationship with Jim during your Wood phase of the year, but you will need to be aware of this shift in dynamics (from a Nurturing Cycle to a Controlling Cycle relationship) and act accordingly.
As you move into Fall, your challenge is going to be managing your Wood. The first step really is awareness because you can’t fix what you don’t understand. When you feel anger toward Jim, remind yourself that this is your Wood response. Use some of the Metal structure the Fall energy provides and take a mental, logical approach to whatever issue has you upset. Rationality sits in Metal and is a great aid in calming the overdone Wood. Other easy ways to help manage excessive Wood energy is to wear lots of white in the Fall (Metal’s color), listen to music that features wooden flutes, and give yourself a few minutes of quiet time every day where you sit resting your fingertips at the outer corners of your eyes. This posture will definitely help keep Wood energy calm. In the midst of a Wood outbreak, you can use peppermint or lavender essential oils. Or grab a cup of dandelion tea.
In many ways, you and Jim bring excellent energies to your relationship. You have four of the five elements in your primary/secondary mix, which gives you a great degree of flexibility in meeting situations that arises between you. If you bring thought and understanding to your relationship dynamics, and are mindful of your Wood energy, Fall can become a time of beauty and deepening love for you both. Blessings to you!